Saturday, 13 February 2016


Golden guy:  Bernie Cooper  poses with the gold medal he won in the Commonwealth Championships in Australia. Inset, Bernie with Ian Chambers  Mike McKenzie

By Andrea Thompson

MR Cumbria bodybuilding champion Bernie Cooper struck gold in the Commonwealth Championships in Australia thanks to the “hard time” he gets from Whitehaven gym owner Ian Chambers.

Bernie, 60, who won the over-50s bodybuilding contest in Melbourne, makes the two-hour round trip from his own gym in Dalton-in-Furness to train with Ian at his Powerhouse gym in Hensingham once a week.

Ian, himself a bodybuilder with a number of England and European titles under his belt, says he gives Bernie a hard time to make sure he gets the best out of him.

“He’s been coming here for three or four years and I help him with his nutrition. I pull him to bits, saying he has to do this and this and this – constructive criticism is what it’s called.” he said.

In return, Bernie helps Ian train, although the 37-year-old has been out of action since tearing a quad muscle in January.

Ian, who has competed over 90 times himself, said: “We have been all over the world competing – Germany, Italy, America – we go everywhere.

“Bernie is the older man but I have burned myself out. People don’t realise how hard he does train. We have to give people a hard time to push them,” he said.

Bernie, who beat rivals almost 40 years younger to win the Mr Cumbria title, hopes bodybuilding will be included in the next Commonwealth Games in four years’ time following his success in the championships.

He is keeping his fingers crossed that Games organisers will have been impressed – and will include the sport.

He said: “I thought I had a good chance in Melbourne, but you never know until you turn up. I hope I’m still training in four years’ time, and we’ll just have to see if I can get an invite.”

Bernie came second in the World Championships over-50s section two years ago.

He and Ian are now busy working towards a number of “exhibition posing” shows ahead of the World Championships in Dublin in June and Mr Universe in Southport at the end of the year.

They also hope to compete in Barcelona in the summer.

Ian said: “The competition season starts in two weeks’ time and then we will be away every weekend for the next 10 to 11 weeks.”

Bernie was named Commonwealth Champion in the over 50s bodybuilding in a competition held in Melbourne a few days before the Commonwealth Games opened.


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